Food running out, Philippine typhoon survivors warn

Philippine officials and residents of areas that bore the brunt of Typhoon Rai pleaded for food, water, and shelter on Tuesday as damaged roads, flooding, and severed power and communication lines hampered relief efforts.

Rai struck the Philippines last Thursday, killing nearly 400 people and affecting 1.8 million, displacing 630,000 of them, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It is the strongest typhoon to hit the archipelago this year.

“Our food supply is running low. Maybe, in a few days, we will totally run out,” said Fely Pedrablanca, mayor of Tubajon town on Dinagat Island.

The area, facing the Pacific Ocean, was devastated by the typhoon and only nine out of more than 2,000 homes in her town were left standing, she said.

The coast guard has deployed vessels to help in relief work and in trying to reach areas that are still cut-off, while the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) plans to ferry people to safety, including the foreign tourists stranded on the holiday island of Siargao.

“We’re fighting a tremendous disaster. It’s Haiyan all over again,” said PRC Chairman Richard Gordon, referring to one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded, which had killed 6,300 people in the Philippines, in 2013.

“In the province of Southern Leyte, evacuation centres were also destroyed,” said Roger Mercado, acting chief of the public works agency, as he appealed for tents and construction material.

According to him, damage to infrastructure in Southern Leyte, where residents were also in desperate need of food and water, could reach 3 billion pesos ($60.14 million).

Fifty six people are missing and more than 500 are injured, police said on Tuesday.

“The government prepositioned food and non-food items but they are not enough because many are in need,” said Danilo Atienza, disaster chief of Southern Leyte.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday ordered state agencies to restore power and communications as he promised 10 billion pesos ($200 million) for recovery efforts.

Foreign aid has also started to arrive from countries like Japan and China, while the United Nations said that it was working with partners to help in the areas of shelter, health, food, protection and other life-saving responses.

By William Regal

Used to think I was a tad indecisive, but now I’m not quite sure.

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